Seyi Omooba: Sacked anti-gay post actress loses tribunal appeal

Seyi Omooba
Seyi Omooba was dismissed from her role as Celie on The Color Purple

An actress sacked for posting an anti-gay comment on Facebook has lost an employment tribunal ruling appeal.

Seyi Omooba was due to perform as Celie - a lesbian role - in a stage production of The Color Purple, but was axed over the post, from 2014.

Miss Omooba, a Christian, was ordered to pay costs to her former agency and Curve in Leicester, where she was due to perform, after losing a tribunal.

Now she has lost an appeal against that tribunal ruling in the High Court.

Miss Omooba's Facebook post referenced Biblical texts and said: "I do not believe you can be born gay, and i do not believe homosexuality is right, though the law of this land has made it legal doesn't mean its right."

The post came to light on 15 March 2019, when it was tweeted by another actor, who was unconnected to the play.

In the tribunal, Miss Omooba had claims for discrimination, breach of contract and harassment turned down.

She was ordered pay costs of £53,839 and £259,356, but the tribunal heard she could pay less, subject to an assessment.

Steven Spielberg and Whoopi Goldberg on the set of The Color Purple
Director Steven Spielberg and Whoopi Goldberg, who played Celie, on the set of The Color Purple film, which Miss Omooba claimed she had watched

Celie, the role Miss Omooba had been due to play, is a woman who has a sexual relationship with another female character, Shug.

Miss Omooba signed up to play the lead role of Celie in 2019, having not read the script for the production, which is based on Alice Walker's novel of the same name.

She told the tribunal she had read the book at school and watched Steven Spielberg's film version, starring Whoopi Goldberg. However, the film version plays down the physical relationship between Celie and Shug.

Miss Omooba claimed the character's sexuality was ambiguous and that she would have refused the role if she had considered her gay.

'Close the chapter'

Following the latest ruling, Miss Omooba - in a statement through her legal representatives, the Christian Legal Centre, said: "I have long forgiven all those who have sought to ruin my theatre career, but the theatre world needs to be told, loud and clear, that cancelling people for their Christian beliefs is illegal and wrong."

In a statement, the Curve's chief executive Chris Stafford and artistic director Nikolai Foster said: "We are pleased the employment appeal tribunal (EAT) has robustly rejected all Seyi Omooba's appeals against the tribunal decision of 2021 against Curve and Global Artists.

"After two court cases, we very much hope all parties can finally close the chapter on this matter and move forward. As always, we politely ask people to be kind and respectful across all social media when passing comment on the case."

Miss Omooba's legal representatives said there would be a further appeal.

"Seyi was racially abused, received death threats and was hounded out of her career for a polite and temperate expression of what the Bible says about marriage," Christian Legal Centre chief executive Andrea Williams said.

"An unjust ruling which defends her sacking cannot stand and we will be taking this to the Court of Appeal."

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